Archive for April, 2012

California dreamin

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

On a winter’s day and the sky is grey…

Well that’s not really the point of this blog to recall old Mama’s and Papa’s tunes, but hey why not? We are on a red eye back from a week in California visiting several points between San Francisco and Carmel. While one may think California is the home of the auto-centric and viewing some of the traffic it wouldn’t be hard to agree, except for a number of things.

1. Bikes are allowed on the BART (SF’s version of the T). In fact they have illustrated spots where bikes my be leaned. The CalTrain (their version of Commuter Rail) has entire bike cars that were full of riders. There was plentiful interior station bike parking. Think the tunnel at Down Town Crossing filled with bike racks and bikes… Hello MBTA????

2. No matter how suburban the area there is tons of bike accomodation in the form of well marked and signed bike lanes going to real places. There was one news report of the folks at facebook donating big money to one town to improve its bike infrastructure, among a lot of other things… Hello Corporate Boston as well as State transportation planners????

3. Back to the signage… Even the ever exclusive Monterey Penninsula has signs banning parking from bike lanes. I have yet to see one of those in Boston anywhere, not even north of the Charles. Please correct me, but I’d say we’re LACKING in signage big time! Hello Mass Dot? Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, Somerville DPWs?????

4. Tons of by the hour rental bikes available PRIVATELY. We counted no less than 5 different rental franchises in San Francisco offering bikes for as little as an hour. Monterey had 4 in a two block area. Hubway’s set up is expensive? How come there are dozens of companies staffing booths there? Perhaps the weather? This gets back to dotrider’s disenchantment with Hubway as a driver instead of improving infrastructure and working on EDUCATION of riders and drivers alike about bicycling in the city. I’m sorry to be such a Republican on this issue since it is private entities serving the market not public…

So we’ve been on two trips around the school vacation week and we’ve seen Montreal and San Francisco’s infrastructure. This makes me believe our ’50 miles’ is somewhat of a hoax. Counting a blotted out sharrow on Dot-Ave as a bike lane doesn’t count. Sorry. We’re better than we’ve been folks, but let’s set a higher bar. Hopefully the city’s replacement for Nicole Friedman will help address these issues.

Meanwhile Peddle on!

It’s not how fast you ride…

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

…but its how little you go zero. That’s my bike riding mantra for traversing the streets of Dorchester and anywhere else in the Boston area. The bikes I ride aren’t particularly fancy or fast, so deluding myself into being speed racer isn’t about to happen. Throw in the fact that I’m hardly middle aged anymore and it is truely a matter of not getting hurt. If you go too fast you’re more likely to get hurt or to get hurt worse than if you weren’t going so fast.

So, it’s set that I don’t ride fast, so what about the ‘not going zero’ part? Mass Bikes promotes the Same Streets Same Rules concept and I use their handy plastic hand outs once or twice a week to inform confused riders and drivers alike. That said, there’s no way I’d obey every traffic law on my ride between Dorchester and JP each day.

I’ve worked in JP for nearly 13 years. Since I began working there the City of Boston has added 16 stop signs to intersections I passed through in a car coming and going. There are also three traffic lights that didn’t exist then either. So….as a rider there’s plenty of intersections that I can recall weren’t dangerous enough before to require a Stop sign. That doesn’t drive my thinking related to how I ride, but it is a factor.

The Idaho model probably reflects my approach best. I believe it is Idaho that allows bikes to do ‘rolling’ stops through stop signs and red lights. Given, as Bikeyface so aptly pointed out, that riders see a lot more than our car-bound brethren it isn’t the most dangerous move in the world to continue through just about any Stop sign and a select number of lighted intersections.

There are some roads I would never cross without the light in my favor or at least the Walk light on. In fact I like it best when the Walk light is on in all directions. I deem myself a ‘pedalstrian’ and off I go.

Otherwise there are five lights on my way to work that I’d never run. For the locals that is Park Street at Washington, Four Corners, Columbia Road at Washington, Blue Hill Ave into Franklin Park and crossing Washington in JP. On the way home, it is more nuanced. I rarely run the one at the end of Williams to get into Franklin Park. Turning off Blue Hill onto Talbot has a series of choices depending upon the timing and the car traffic, stopping being one that is part of the mix. Going through Codman Square is its own adventure where the goal is to avoid having to stop as is Peabody Square. That said there are a majority of configurations where stopping is the choice.

It was sad to hear the cops were enforcing riding the right way on Talbot Avenue, since they do it themselves. One suspects they knew the person they pulled over as they discovered a 38 automatic with 10 rounds in it on the rider, so… One suspects there are plenty of folks who had an evil thought the rider was after the bad driver who chased them off the road, but sadly that just added fuel to my partner’s suggestion that I should keep my mouth shut when out on the road. It could happen, and it will when I’m riding with her for sure. I go zero a lot more when riding with her too, but hey usually were not in any hurry when we’re riding together anyway… Pedal on!